Miss Iowa USA Katherine Connors was warming up her pitching arm Thursday night at the baseball  diamond in the Village of East Davenport — in preparation for her major league debut.

Connors, of Bettendorf, will be on the mound tonight in Washington, D.C., as she throws out the ceremonial first pitch when the Washington Nationals meet the Philadelphia Phillies.

It will be Connors’ chance to show Nationals pitcher Miguel Batista what kind of arm she has, and maybe she can make him walk a runway in a bathing suit in return.

Connors’ trek to the mound began Tuesday when a sore shoulder sidelined Nationals pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg and forced him to miss his start in a game against the Atlanta Braves.

Replacing Strasburg was Batista.

When he took the mound, the displeasure of the Washington crowd became vocal. They booed him.

Batista said after the game that he understood the disappointment in the stands. “Imagine if you go there to see Miss Universe and you end up having Miss Iowa,” he said.

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Connors, who was crowned Miss Iowa USA in January, had a quick retort to Batista’s remark. “I know I can throw a pitch or two!” she said in a statement that has been reported nationwide. “The question is, can Miguel Batista walk the runway in a swimsuit?

“Now I have to eat my words,” Connors said Thursday night as she headed to the diamond in the Village with friends to practice her throws. “I said I could pitch and now I have to pitch tomorrow.

“I admit that Iowa is not an unknown state, but I get asked all the time if I have electricity and running water,” she said.

In an apparent effort to make amends, Batista sent flowers to Connors.

It was an assortment of all kinds of flowers, she said. “And it had a little note. ‘Wishing you the best. See you in Washington. Miguel Batista.’

“He’s not walking the runway, but I think I might make him when I get up there,” Connors added. “I will choose the swimsuit. I’ll bring along my competition swimsuit from the Miss USA pageant. That thing is smaller than it looks. That would not be a pretty sight.”

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